Hundreds have turned out at RAAF Base Williamtown for a parade to mark the change of command of Surveillance and Response Group (SRG).
Held in the Number 2 Squadron hangar, on 8 May 19, Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Craig Heap, CSC handed over command to the incoming Commander (CDR), AIRCDRE Barbara Courtney, AM.
Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal Steven Roberton, DSC, AM joined VIPs from the Hunter Region in attending the parade. Honoured guests included a cross-section of community leaders and the local indigenous community - the Worimi Elders.
The community representation was a clear reflection of AIRCDRE Craig Heap’s close relationship with the local region having “double-hatted” as the Senior Australian Defence Force Officer at RAAF Base Williamtown during his first few years as CDR SRG.
Addressing the parade, AIRCDRE Heap reflected on his tenure and highlighted the efforts of personnel and staff in achieving mission success:
“Every day you, the people of SRG made a difference, you have protected our nation, our beliefs and our values,” AIRCDRE Heap said.
“Through your professionalism, innovation and dedication, we have overcome challenges to maximise our capabilities, and indeed maximise the ADF and governments’ response options in some very diverse and strategically significant situations.
“I am tremendously proud of our achievements during my tenure, a time of incredible and continuing change and challenge. You have ensured we have, as stated in our mission verb, ‘sustained and enhanced’ our capabilities.”
The youngest member of SRG, Leading Aircraftwoman Tia Davidson had the honour of presenting a memento to the outgoing CDR which was gratefully accepted.
AIRCDRE Barbara Courtney is the first air traffic controller to command the Force Element Group (FEG) and brings a wealth of experience from three decades in the Air Force.
Her career includes appointments outside of SRG in Combat Support Group, Air Force Training Group and Air Force Headquarters. AIRCDRE Courtney has also had postings to the UK and Japan in addition to multiple deployments to the Middle East and Solomon Islands.
Addressing the parade AIRCDRE Courtney thanked the outgoing Commander SRG for his leadership and noted that ‘SRG is mid-way through the most significant capability transformation in its history; delivering new aircraft, radars, systems and communications and, in some cases, a new work force’.
“What I saw during my handover was an organisation that is doing all of this while maintaining a highly credible capability,” AIRCDRE Courtney said.
“SRG is well aware of the challenges it faces but is also well served by excellent leadership at every layer. I consider being appointed Commander of SRG the greatest privilege of my career.”
SRG, is a FEG which was formed on 30 March 2004 and is headquartered at Williamtown along with 41, 42 and 44WGs, with 92WG’s headquarters located at RAAF Edinburgh.
Bound together by the motto 'Foremost Sentinel', the four Wings conduct surveillance, reconnaissance, airspace management control and maritime response operations both at home and on deployment.